If you didn't know, Sophie Mirabella was one of three or four opposition members to boycott Kevin Rudd's apology for past government policies to the Stolen Generation. Unfortunately Sophie is my local member. The local regional newspaper, The Border Mail, calls her the "darling of the far-right". I would tend to agree.
There has been a strong response against her boycott from the electorate of Indi. 150 people took out a newspaper ad in the Border Mail, and about 40 letters, 34 or so against her stance, appeared in last Saturday's edition of that paper. On regional ABC radio phone calls and read out texts went about 50/50, but that was probably the ABC trying to show a lack of bias. Last Thursday 400 people attended a rally in Wangaratta to show that they were against her boycott and supported the apology.
Sophie evaded a question on radio about whether she thought that Aboriginal children had been stolen by stating that none had been taken in Victoria according to one report she had read. She said the issue of the Stolen Generation was divisive, she certainly proved that. In a speech against the apology she often quoted Noel Pearson.
Sophie did not inform the electorate that she would boycott the apology before she did so.
Below is a letter I have just put in the mail.
117 Murphy Street
Wangaratta Vic 3677
We are writing this letter to express our disgust at your boycott of the Australian Government’s apology for past policies that lead to the Stolen Generation.
Some have called your decision to boycott racist, which is, as yet, unproven. We believe your boycott resulted from ignorance. We believe you limited your research on the complex issue of the Stolen Generation to those opinions supporting yours, as over the past few years the Age and the ABC have had hundreds of stories from Aborigines who were stolen from their parents.
You consistently try to argue that all the Aboriginal children were taken for their own good and that none were stolen from their parents in Victoria, but we have read and heard hundreds of stories from the Stolen Generation and know your claim is either maliciously or ignorantly wrong.
Your attempt to whip up fear that the apology will cause huge compensation payments has failed to scare us. Compensation funds have already been setup in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia. In South Australia a member of the Stolen Generation recently had interest added to their successful court claim. In our opinion, the Stolen Generation and their families should be compensated for their pain and suffering, just as illegally deported Vivian Alverez-Solon was.
In the end, your opinion only matters in that it stains the voters of Indi with your ignorance. What really matters is the reaction of the Aboriginal people, which on the whole seems to be a mixture of happiness and relief. Note: Noel Pearson does not have a monopoly on Aboriginal opinion. Perhaps you could talk to local Wally Cooper.
Graham Clements Neil Clements Doris Clements.